Monday, May 25, 2015

First Summer Trip

Summer is tantalizingly close. Only twenty days of work separate me from it. Only fourteen days of school separate Sam and Caroline from it. Surely I have one mental foot in the summer already. The AP Exams are over. Planning for 2015-16 is well underway. The summer schedule has taken shape. Needless to say, I will find it difficult to focus on my work tomorrow.

Our first summer trip took place this weekend. We decided to explore the National Park set aside at the Delaware Water Gap on Saturday. Here's a review.

The waterfalls are spectacular. Accessible too. There are several in the northern portion of the park: a pair are near the Dingman's Falls Visitor Center. A third is a short drive away from that spot.

Silver Thread Falls

Dingman's Falls

The kids were in a mood to pose for my photography. 
There was also a really neat park that looped around several smaller falls nearby Dingman's. I don't know if I appreciated how good that park was while at it. In retrospect, it was a very pleasant way to walk alongside a steam and see about a half dozen falls. The falls at the very end of the trail, Deer Leap, were particularly picturesque.

The Park Service takes extra care to make the walkways accessible, clear, and well maintained. One's feet didn't even get dirty walking around these wonders. I'm not used to having such easy walking around sites like this.

Sherry and I failed to get a good photo of the two of us in front of a water fall. We took one last fall at Hickory Run. Perhaps we should think of getting a series of such photos done.

The difficult part of the day involved a bike trip that went about as poorly as possible. I ended up taking Sam on a 4.5-mile journey along a trail that was in such bad shape it was closed to the public. However, the signage didn't make it at all obvious that it was closed. And two rangers I talked too didn't warn me from going on it. Instead of the pleasant, relatively flat trip along crushed gravel I was expecting, we were on a poor mountain biking trail. We ended up having to walk about 2/3 of the trip.

Sam's worried look was justified. 
I wish I could tell you this was the toughest park of our "bike" trail. It wasn't.
As I drove out of the park I realized what parts of McDade Trail were hospitable for biking. In fact, Sam and I could have been on any other stretch of the trail and been just fine. But the segment we rode / walked wasn't at all fit.

I need to say that I was stunned and proud at how well Sam handled the adversity during our 90-minute ordeal. Cell phone service was spotty, so I couldn't get in touch with Mike or Sherry in any reliable way. We really had only one option: to keep proceeding north over terrain that normally required us to push our bikes. I don't know how many nine-year-olds could have come through that and how many could have done so with as little complaining.

This is the first of what I think will be many trips like this in summer 2015. In fact, a few of us in the neighborhood have put together one heck of a Google doc to coordinate our efforts. This trip Saturday featured a small contingent, but it was a good opportunity to see a park that surprised us.

You would expect teachers to make a Google doc out of summer, wouldn't you?
Delaware Water Gap is worth visiting again. I think the next trip will be to the southern end of the park. Do some biking down there where it's safe. Hiking is good down there, too, with Mt. Minsi and Sunfish Pond. Still, it would be hard to see it again without venturing up to those falls.

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